Okinawa Konbi Uta Ketteiban

Okinawa Konbi Uta Ketteiban is the latest in a long list of compilation albums of Okinawan music. It’s also a companion to two previous releases on Tokyo’s Respect label which featured songs of celebration and songs of Ryukyu dances. The theme of this new album is ‘konbi uta’ – songs sung by duos. The term originated in the early 1960s as a result of the large number of duets which were performed during this fertile period in Okinawan minyo. It remains a popular genre today and this lengthy 17 track release showcases many of the most popular songs sung by duos. Among them are ‘Boshikuma’, Shoukichi Kina’s ‘Uwaki Bushi’, and the much performed ‘Juku nu Haru’.

Dance songs, love songs, and ‘asobi uta’ are all represented here. Among the many artists featured is the Okinawan-Peruvian singer Lucy Nagamine who sings two songs with Makoto Asage who is making his debut recording on this album.  Both studied with the Shizuko Oshiro minyo group and Lucy shows here that she is just as comfortable in this setting as she is with her other more contemporary work. Other notable performers include the duo known as Jinjin (Megumi Aragaki and Kazuya Jinbo), and Miyuki Kinjo (a pupil of Seijin Noborikawa) who sings with Yoshihiro Oshiro. Most of these songs will be familiar to anyone with more than a passing interest in Okinawan music and there are no real surprises. The songs are generally played in straightforward versions with traditional sanshin and taiko accompaniment.

Okinawa Konbi Uta Ketteiban is released on 20th June by Tokyo’s Respect Records.

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